This week I attended the TPMA (Toronto Product Management Association) monthly meeting: Are Your Sales Teams Truly Enabled to Sell Your Product? The speaker this month was Nicki Weiss, founder of sales effectiveness consulting company Saleswise. At the end of the meeting, Nicki left us with a challenge. Explaining that the most effective business relationships are actually triads, she challenged us to look at ways to include an additional person when we set up one-to-one business meetings. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K31NRnCvHQg
Intuitively, I know this to be true from my own experience. As a cross-functional collaborative project manager, I would have made sure all meetings were inclusive. I’ve often acted as facilitator, actually calling the meeting to bring together different factions so that roadblocks could be cleared and progress continued. In my earlier career, in technical support of sales roles, I’ve more than once played good cop alongside an account manager on a buddy-team visit to the customer. Not to also forget the many interviews I’ve gone on where there has been a minimum of two people from the hiring company in attendance. Triads have been a valuable part of my success.
Nicki started the meeting with a discussion of 5 stages of business culture as presented in Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright. Basically, this is a scale of how open and collaborative people are about the world, their work and their relationship with others. For the purposes of this discussion, I’ll focus on stage 3 and 4.
Research has shown that about 50% of companies have a culture in the third stage – where people feel good about their own work, but have distrust and hold negativity about others outside their circle. This is how company silos are formed – work is not delegated, information is hoarded and fierce competitiveness reigns.
The fourth stage is a company culture where people have a “we’re great” attitude and work together on common goals. Synergies flourish, information flows and work is completed faster.
Nicki explained that a lot of her work with helping sales teams to be more effective entails bringing them from stage 3 to 4. And an effective tool that she uses is to get them there is for them to look at creating triads in their business relationships.
I can see plenty of reasons why a meeting of three would be more collaborative:
- It takes away the “us” vs “them” dynamic that can form in a one-on-one.
- For knowledge sharing, it saves time and misunderstandings if more people hear what is said.
- It brings in alternative perspectives.
- People feel more comfortable speaking up or presenting contrary views in a group setting, than they do one-on-one
It was an interesting aha for me. As a new founder I have been working more independently and have been seeking out individuals for networking and information sharing meetings. So the challenge is a good one for me to embrace, as a collaborative style is more natural to me and may bring me increased success. If I am now working more independently, then the way to do this is to pose the question to the people I am meeting with. Who else would benefit from this conversation? When approaching companies, I should look to meet with more than one person. Or consider having a networking meeting to introduce people to each other. I’m looking forward to see the outcomes of this effort!